Jormungand – 02 Review

That was definitely the best moment of the episode. That was the first time the series managed to mix the fun of action and the grittiness in my eyes. They definitely should have more moments like those.

Jormungand 02: One Should Only Sell To Those Who Can Afford It

One thing that intrigues me about this series is the way it portrays Arms-Dealers. Right now it seems like they’re some kind of merciless businessman dealing with matters of death and destruction. And they’re surrounded by elite-soldiers, not normal soldiers because those are the sorry idiots actually buying the weapons to kill other nameless sorry idiots. But who are these Arms-Dealers? What motivates them to do business? Is it just for profit? But profit for whom? Are they independent? Or are they working for some big company behind them? If episode 01 has said anything about it, it’s that there’s no real common ground when it comes to Arms-Dealers. Apparently they are all more or less wicked but the series seems to go for a more personal route where the definition of Arms-Dealer greatly depends on the characters. But I guess as long as we don’t get some preachy ‘clash of Arms-Dealers-philosophies’, I’m fine with that. And this series seems to have a tendency to explain every women’s presence in this gritty setting by her being somewhat batshit insane. I hope this series will feature female soldiers who aren’t crazy on some level because it certainly got already tiresome with the third women appearing in this show who’s crazy.


Synopsis:
Koko gets dragged into a conflict over an oil-pipeline and quickly realizes that the buyer wants her support without any financial reassurance. Obviously smelling a bad deal she tries to back off but another Arms-Dealer is also present. And he tries to involve her in the conflict to see her go down together with the army. As one of the guy’s goons kills off their guides his team ends up stranded in the same way as Koko’s team as they try to find their way out. Since it’s the other Arms-Dealer’s team who actually killed the comrades of the soldiers who surrounds them Koko manages to sell them off for their way into freedom.

I think the series is overdoing it a bit with telling the audience just how crazy Koko is. She’s plenty of crazy without her childish tantrums.

Review:
I think one of the problems I have with Jormungand that for all the grittiness it has it’s still a rather juvenile series that tries to stay away from any complexity. The lines between friend and foe are clearly drawn and the story doesn’t challenge the choices of the protagonists but instead proves them right. In that regard it’s also a rather straightforward story that tries to show a dark world and the people who live in it.
I guess at this point everybody knows how hard Jormungand tries to be Black Lagoon or how nearly everyone is reminded of that series but also realizes that this series is nothing like that one. And I still think Jormungand is different because it lacks something Black Lagoon has – and that’s to go all the way with its gritty stylishness. I mean without that Jormungand is pretty much Black Lagoon, it’s only the lack of it that marks the difference here. Even in episode 02 I still have this feeling that it thinks grittiness means letting your protagonists walk through a desolate wasteland making jokes about how desolate the place is. There should be more to this than just that. And there’s the Terminator-kid of course with Koko being a sort-of mentor-character for him. I guess we’ll get to see a timejump or simply just a dramatic event at some point to see the fruits of these lessons. For me these kind of stories always seemed to work better with the mentor being the past the already developed protagonist fondly remembers instead of going with the whole emotional journey from the start. I mean, it’s easier to use a flashback as characterization-device than to show the whole character-development-process.
That said, I liked the second episode much better story-wise since it was clearly structured and didn’t get sidetracked with the Whys of the characters. I don’t think characters are the series’ strong suit, even if they aren’t generic they’re still rather weak characters that only work in tandem using dialogues. Except Koko I don’t think any of the characters could dominate a scene single-handedly, there always needs to be someone else to play the support. I guess, showing off each character’s individual personality with some episodic stories could be another thing this series could be doing in the future. With Baccano and Durarara the big cast was easily handled because the characters all had these little shticks to differentiate them from one another. The cast of Jormungand at this point doesn’t have this level of charisma to make me care about one character as more than just a side-character.

Even if the dialogue seemed to go on for a tad too long, it handled the bad parts of being a soldier quite well. They expressed the sad life of travelling with an arms-dealer without sounding whiny and Mildred optimism is actually treated as the naivety it obviously is.

The episode had some pacing-problems in the second half also, I think. It was that point when the characters started talking again about their backgrounds. Like with the Terminator-kid in episode 01 Jormungand has such a dry way of exploring the characters’ background instead of tying this together with a story. But I mostly blame the Terminator-kid for it. On some level I think it’s understandable that in this episode when the characters talked about themselves they presented themselves to people who knew them already so there was no reason for any big exposition. And when it came it was rather forced. But normally the outsider (in this case the Terminator-kid) would appear to challenge the status quo and ask the questions in place of the audience. The kid, though, is one hell of an expert when it comes to playing mute-deaf apparently and has trouble interacting with anyone. Therefore I’m rather grateful for his reaction in the end when Koko’s group betrayed the other arms-dealer (which was the best scene of the series yet, I think) because it means development. And the series needs more little moments of individuality that isn’t just some kind of dull ‘As you may know… In sixth grade, I ate salmon. And it was great.’-exposition. Give those guys weird hobbies or obsessions like that eyepatch-chick with her fascination for Koko and Koko herself already plays the crazy-routine well enough. Jormungand is still far too bland especially since it seems so strongly reminiscent of Black Lagoon.

I liked the second episode better even if it had some weak moments pacing-wise. The story was as simple as the one in the first episode but better told in a way you could follow it. The characters overall are still a tad too bland for my taste but the series shows that it wants to introduce the audience slowly to each one’s individual background so I guess I will just have to be patient.

Episode-Rating: 7/10

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About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on April 19, 2012, in Anime, Jormungand, Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I can tell this isn’t really my kind of show. Then again, I’ve watched a few and enjoyed them that I thought “aren’t my kind of show.” Currently in love with Chihayafuru (which I knew I’d love because of the poetry) and surprisingly, Space Brothers. Enjoying your blog too. Nice to find someone who shares an interest in anime.

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  2. Good review of the series so far, I waited till 2 episodes to make a decision on this; honestly the first episode put me to sleep, but this one definetely shows potential. I agree completely that this is a Black Lagoon wannabe, and in a sense that isn’t a bad thing; Black Lagoon was a great series and should it be emulated, but while a good emulation would put it on a similar level, a poor one makes the series a knock-off and turns that positive into a negative.

    The one thing that I can’t ignore in this series is the fuzzy eye-lashes, its really not a big deal, but I’ve never seen a character drawn with such ridiculous eyeball hair. Is that supposed to be a comment on the kid’s nationality or is it just an uncommon artistic choice. Thanks for the review, hopefully it’ll turn out like Black Lagoon in a good way.

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    • Thanks 😀 . The first episode really was the epitome of blandness, I have to say. And the really interesting thing is that I read the start of the manga – and it did the exact same thing storytelling-wise! This part of the story probably tried to show off the cast instead of telling a story but the latter just ended up being a mess that can be best summarized as “Something’s going on… I guess…”. It was like we only just got to see snapshots of the story… Well, the second episode was better and there’s some potential in this series as long as they put more thought into exploring the gritty setting. The other promising thing is that the manga’s finished so there will be no out-of-character-finale as far as new material is concerned – although they could still throw fanservice-filler into the mix in case they don’t trust the manga-fanbase to buy enough DVDs.

      Hmm, these eyelashes certainly are strange and I hope it’s just the artist’s style… I mean it would be weird to hear a character say stuff like “You have the eyelashes of a Spaniard.”.

      I don’t know whether I want it to be as good as Black Lagoon… I won’t complain of course, it’s just I think I would like it more if it would find its own path to follow. But trying harder to be Black Lagoon certainly is an easier way to make the series more enjoyable, I guess.

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  3. The art reminds me of Claymore. Weird.

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